Euless, Texas, founded in 1879 by couple Elisha Adam and Judy Trigg Euless, has grown from a small group of 25 to a thriving city of 57,550 residents. In that time, the minimal 10,371 acres of Euless has evolved into a unique hybrid of small town identity and big city activity. From the local Euless Family Life Center that can be argued is the heart of the city, to the ultra-modern hotels, trendy restaurants, and luxury movie theaters of the Euless Shopping Area. It truly is like nothing else the DFW Metroplex has on offer. As unique as this hybrid city is, though, in recent years the development of the big city side of the area has become more prominent. As people from other states move into areas like Euless for work opportunities, more efforts have been made into rapid urbanization of Euless, causing an imbalance between the modern lifestyle and the small-town mentality of many residents.
As if in response to the modernization, local events at the community parks have been on the rise. Outdoor movie showings crop up in the summer. Playgrounds have become more popularity. Picnics in those same playgrounds have become more common, with some even holing birthday parties there. In addition, events like the FabEuless Arbor Daze celebration have become one of the most popular events the city holds. It is not only a time to promote the management and protection of the forest life in Euless, but also a time for the community to get together and bond over a shared heritage. With all of these considered, it has become apparent that Euless citizens still desire to keep their community and love of nature intact, even as the pace of modern life grows faster and faster. That is why, for this public art proposal, creating a park that combines these aspects together would be best for the city.
To begin, it is important to ask, “Why a park?” It is an unusual idea for a public arts project. After all, parks are not generally considered to fall into the modern conception of “art”. In the public conscious, art in any shape needs to be able something. Images of statues and murals pop up in the mind, the kind of art that is most common to see in any part of the United States, let alone Euless. A park is just a place. Therefore, it cannot be art, right?
Wrong. Public spaces like parks can be considered just as artistically important as any statue. After all, parks do not just materialize out of nowhere. It requires a skilled architect to be able to develop the fields and create the paths the people must navigate on a daily basis. Just as a sculpture uses clay to mold his art, these architects use the earth’s landscape to communicate a message, all be it in a more practical sense. By this logic, parks can be akin to practical art, much like Victorian silverware or Ancient Greek pottery. It is in its practicality that a new message can be made with the park, so long as the right location is picked.
Before one can get into that, it must be acknowledged how the current public art scene in Euless will affect what is done to the park. In Euless, there are only 20 officially recognized works. Of those, 13 of them are metal statues. These pieces, while teaching community and the arts, limit what the public can consider art to be. Moreover, out of all of them, not a single one takes advantage of Euless’ connection with its forest life. That is why, when designing this park, the statues built inside it should both be made of natural material and completely interactable. Having the materials be natural helps tie into the community’s interest in forest preservation, while allowing for a wide range of how artists making the sculptures can approach their work. But the last part – where all pieces must be interactable – is without a doubt one of the most important aspects. It has been scientifically proven that if something is interacted, it will stay with a person’s memory longer than if they were to only observe the object. For this project to succeed, the layout of the park and the interactable sculptures in it need to be in harmony so that it will stick with the public, no matter the age range.
Now that these elements have been established, one must now decide where to put it and what kind of interactive art belong in it. The idea to place it in an already established park is tempting, but ultimately must be ignored. Parks that are already made and have been around for years all have different messages and how they are constructed to tell them. It is not wise to force the park’s message in these locations, especially if this interrupts the established community there. For this reason, undeveloped land is the best thing to work with, so that the message can be built from the ground up. After some research, it has been determined that the address, 3391 Euless South Main Street, Euless, Tarrant County, TX 76040, would be the perfect place to build this new public art piece. This 10.712 acres of land, located between two family friendly neighborhoods, has enough land to make the park a viable development in the area. It also holds a large lake that has the potential to be used in unique water-based sculpture work. Being in a family-friendly area also ensures that people will want to visit it and be more exposed to the sculptures and architecture of the park.
As for what would fill the park, one idea is to build structures inspired by Patrick Dougherty’s stick-based sculptures that can be climbed on and explored. This can be enhanced with the planting of more trees in the area, which would also allow for natural supports in the construction of these sculptures. Doing it this way, one can take the wonder of nature found in Dougherty’s works and expand it into a playground for the imagination. In the structures, those that explore may find other nature-based sculptures: a wooden carving of a family of bears, a cave where you pull on some “roots” to make things happen above you, a bridge to a duck-watching site, and more are all possible with concept. Along with this, parts of Euless’ history can also be incorporated. A miniature replication of the Himes Log Cabin for people to learn more about how Euless came to be, for example. Or perhaps a new take the Old Iron bridge could be build over the lake to simulate the feeling that people had in 1888 when they too crossed the historic bridge. By working with both community and nature, in conjunction to altering the park to make travel easier, this area can become a work of art and an escape from the current troubles of a modernizing Euless.
The plot of land, as this is being written, is listed on sites such as point2homes.com for $1,650,000. In order to purchase the land, as well as additional costs for construction, artist commissions, and maintenance, the park would need to have the City of Euless and the help of private companies to make this possible. A fund would perhaps need to be created for the project, as well as carefully choosing which private company helps fund the project. (A nature-focused park sponsored by McDonalds, for example, may undermine the message). Such an undertaking would not be an easy process and it would be years before it was unveiled to the public. If it were to be made, there is little doubt that it would make an impact on Euless. And if handled right, it would inspire the young of the city in a way only a park can do. That is what true art does.
Student Client: City of Euless
Brief: Research the assigned city and design a public art piece, with visual examples
Roles: Researcher, Writer, Illustrator
With the definition of public art constantly evolving over the past decade, I believe a public park that celebrates the roots of Euless, TX, can make for a unique and engaging piece of public art that all can enjoy.